Bedroom size matters - half of UK properties are potentially listed incorrectly

  • Analysis of estate agent data reveals 48 per cent of houses on sale across 10 of the UK’s biggest cities contain bedrooms that are potentially listed incorrectly
  • 36 per cent of single bedrooms are technically too small to be classed as such for anyone aged over 10
  • Bristol and Sheffield are the UK’s shoebox centres

New analysis of online property advertisements by Direct Line’s SELECT Premier Insurance1 proves ‘buyers beware’ as nearly half (48 per cent) of homes for sale across the UK contain at least one bedroom that is potentially listed incorrectly2.

The analysis of 350 four and five-bed houses for sale across 10 of the UK’s biggest cities, found over a third (36 per cent) of bedrooms listed as ‘singles’ are, in fact, too small for anyone over the age of 102. According to the Housing Act 1985, a child under the age of 10 can occupy a room which is less than 50ft2 because they are classed as ‘half a person’, however a single bedroom should have a floor space of between 50ft2 - 70ft3.

For one in six (17 per cent) properties the double bedrooms are exceptionally small and would barely house two people. The Housing Act 1985 references that, to avoid overcrowding, double bedrooms for two people should be at least 110 ft2, however one property in Liverpool advertised a 69 ft2 sized room as a double bedroom.

Table One: Percentage of inaccurate room listings by UK city

City Percentage of all rooms listed as ‘single’ that don’t meet size requirements2 Percentage of all rooms listed as ‘double’ that don’t meet size requirements2 Percentage of all rooms listed as ‘single’ that are technically uninhabitable2
Bristol 40% 9% 2%
Sheffield 48% 10% 15%
Liverpool 69% 8% 10%
Birmingham 40% 12% 9%
Manchester 48% 13% 0%
Leeds 25% 14% 9%
Bradford 36% 5% 5%
Glasgow 20% 9% 0%
London 42% 2% 8%
Edinburgh 3% 4% 0%
All cities 36% 8% 6%

Source: SELECT Premier Insurance from Direct Line

A further 6 per cent of bedrooms across the UK are technically uninhabitable, containing bedrooms smaller than the 50 ft2 to be classified as a single bedroom2. Estate agents in Sheffield are most guilty of this, with 15 per cent of single bedrooms advertised being too small to be habitable if the house has a significant number of occupants. Estate agents in Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh are the most accurate in listing single bedrooms in online property advertisements.

When looking at properties overall, estate agents in Bristol are the most inaccurate, as two thirds (66 per cent) of properties for sale in the city had at least one incorrectly listed bedroom (based on a large number of occupants). This is followed by Sheffield (60 per cent), Liverpool (57 per cent) and Birmingham (57 per cent). Estate agents in Edinburgh are by far the most accurate, with only 17 per cent of properties in the Scottish capital containing incorrect bedroom listings.

Table Two: Percentage of properties with at least one incorrect listing by UK city

City Percentage of properties with at least one incorrect bedroom size listing
London 37%
Birmingham 57%
Manchester 51%
Leeds 51%
Glasgow 40%
Sheffield 60%
Bradford 46%
Liverpool 57%
Edinburgh 17%
Bristol 66%
All cities 48%

Source: SELECT Premier Insurance from Direct Line

Nick Brabham, head of SELECT Premier Insurance, said: “Anyone who has purchased a property knows the marketing literature can often be misleading, but it is concerning to see so many properties across the UK being marketed by estate agents as having single and double bedrooms which are barely fit for purpose.

“We urge buyers to check the measurements of bedrooms before putting in an offer on a house, otherwise they may find their ‘double’ bedroom barely has enough space for a bed.”

Notes to editor

1 Direct Line analysis of 350 four and five-bedroom properties listed for sale across 10 major conurbations in the UK. Property sizes are determined using the following criteria, as outlined in the Housing Act 1985 Section 326:

  • Double occupancy room: 110ft2+
  • Single occupancy room: 50ft2 to 70ft2
  • Uninhabitable room: <50ft2

Rooms smaller than 50ft2 are categorised as ‘uninhabitable’ as they can only be inhabited by a child under the age of 10.

2 The room would be too small when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling is in excess of the permitted number (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1985/68/section/326#statusWarningSubSections)

3 Room sizes featured online by estate agents are for guidance purpose online and not described as definitely accurate

For further information, please contact:

About SELECT Premier Insurance

Direct Line offers SELECT Premier Insurance to cover homes, cars and valuables of high worth, as well as breakdown cover, pet and travel insurance, all covered under just one policy. When taking out SELECT Premier Insurance, Direct Line will even pay your cancellation charges from your previous policy, making it even easier and affordable to have all your policies under one roof, with one payment plan and one renewal date.

At SELECT Premier Insurance we help you stay in control by offering you a truly personal service. To begin with, one of our accredited insurance advisors will carry out a complimentary individual telephone review with you. Then they’ll give you tailored advice, based on your unique needs, for example, specialist cover for valuables such as fine art and jewellery (without needing to list individual items worth less than £10,000) or for your property portfolio, to ensure you get exactly the right level of cover.

To find out more about what Direct Line SELECT Premier can offer, go to www.directline.com/select or go straight through to an expert, not a machine, on 0800 206 2849

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 300 7838 or visiting www.directline.com.

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